New Sixers Williams, Brown will get a chance

New Sixers Williams, Brown will get a chance
November 21, 2013, 5:00 pm
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Elliot Williams (left) and Lorenzo Brown each played Wednesday against the Raptors, with Brown scoring five points in one minute. (USA Today Images)

Practice had ended Thursday afternoon at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, but the court was still full of players. There were no lingerers, either. The young Sixers, a team with no one older than 25, were getting after it.

And this was after a film session and a full practice. It’s one thing to have such a bevy of activity during a lull in the schedule, but the Sixers have been pretty busy. They just completed a road trip where they played three games in four days and opened another stretch of three games in four days on Wednesday night.

Thursday could have been an easy one for the Sixers. Only it wasn’t, and by their choice, too.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for everybody in this gym to come into an NBA environment and get some minutes, get seen, get put into a game, know the direction that this program is heading,” coach Brett Brown said. “And that’s the opportunity our new guys and the young guys will be getting.”

It gets back to what the coach said about his team before the season began, that the Sixers will have a lot of what players want the most ...

Playing time.

It also seems as if the Sixers are willing to take a shot with some players, too. More than just an elaborate tryout camp, the Sixers’ plan for development is in full swing. On Wednesday night they waived veteran Kwame Brown and guard Darius Morris and brought in guards Lorenzo Brown and Elliot Williams, two players who had been waived from training camps of different NBA teams.

The Sixers wasted little time throwing the newcomers into the mix. Williams logged four minutes and Lorenzo Brown scored five points on two shots in one minute. Thursday the players had their first practice with the team.

How long they last will be up to them.

“They’re no different than that group that we keep wanting to identify,” Brown said. “We want to try and catch lightning in a bottle and find keepers and do our due diligence and give people opportunities. It’s a natural sort of cleansing that we go through when we build a team.

“It will be no different than the crop that has been kept or released, and here comes the new group.”

Tony Wroten was one of the crop of players that not only stuck, but also made his presence known. As the backup point guard and two-man, Wroten is averaging 13.3 points and 3.2 assists in nearly 27 minutes per game.

Wroten also had a triple-double in his first start last week and averaged 20 points per game during the three-game road trip. Given a chance to show what he can do, Wroten ran with it.

Still, Brown said there is plenty of room for improvement. That’s not just with Wroten or the newcomers, but even point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who was one of the players who stayed late after Thursday’s practice on the heels of a six-turnover game.

“Look at our point guards. There isn’t a lot of experience there and they make a lot of rookie mistakes,” Brown said. “Their heart is in the right place and we’re trying to educate them on the NBA way and with what we’re trying to do and it’s just a really fast-track education process.”

That’s not just for the players on the official roster, either. Brown has even thrown the team’s assistant video coordinator, Curtis Sumpter, into the mix. Sumpter played for Villanova and spent eight years playing professionally overseas before joining the Sixers’ staff.

“He’s going to be the most skilled assistant video coordinator in the league,” Brown said.

Nevertheless, Brown often finds himself leaning on veterans like Spencer Hawes, Thad Young and Evan Turner only to realize the “veterans” aren’t much older than the new players. Hawes is the oldest of the bunch, though he won’t turn 26 until the end of the regular season.

In other words, every player is part of the development process. Even the so-called veterans.

“They aren’t veterans. They’re young players who have a decade of good basketball in them,” Brown said. “That’s where I get tricked. I pinch myself and remind myself that they are good young players and they are 25 years old.”

Young players with a chance that is rare is professional sports. Judging by the number of players who hung around after practice to work out a little longer, it’s an opportunity that isn’t going to waste.